On Friday, CM Siddaramaiah, Health Minister Ramesh Kumar and representatives of private medical establishments held talks to resolve the issues.

Karnataka doctors call off strike did CM agree to water down KPME amendments
news Politics Friday, November 17, 2017 - 18:41

The protesting doctors in Karnataka have finally decided to call off their strike – but this may not necessarily be good news for patients. The doctors held a meeting with the state Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Health Minister Ramesh Kumar at Belagavi on Friday regarding controversial provisions in the Karnataka Private Medical Establishment (KPME) Amendment bill. And according to the doctors who attended the meeting, the government has agreed to water down the bill to appease the doctors.

On Friday, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Health Minister Ramesh Kumar and representatives of private medical establishments held talks to resolve the issues regarding the bill.

Speaking to media persons after the meeting, CM Siddaramaiah said, “I am happy my meeting with the representatives of Doctors was successful. We have succeeded in resolving all issues around KPME Bill.”

Meanwhile the Health Minister assured that the price caps and grievance redressal committees – which were the main bone of contention for the protesting doctors – will stay. However, he said that the doctors and the government have compromised on “certain issues.”

“We will set caps for prices and the government will ensure this will happen. But private medical establishments will be consulted before the caps are set. We will establish mechanism for addressing patients’ grievances. If people lodge complaint with wrong intentions without proof, such people who file false complaints will also be punished. If a patient does not respond to treatment and dies, the hospital should not make it difficult for the relatives to take the body of the deceased patient,” Ramesh Kumar said.

The doctors who attended the meeting, however, claimed that the government has agreed to remove provisions for a grievance redressal committee, and that there will be a price cap only for certain procedures, and certain patients.

Speaking to the media, Dr Jayanna of the Indian Medical Council said that instead of grievance redressal committees, the district registration committee, which will be set up to handle registration process of private hospitals, will address patients’ grievances.

“District Registration Committees will handle the grievances. Medical cases will be referred to Karnataka Medical Council and criminal cases will be dealt based on existing laws. Both CM and Health Minister have assured us that there is no intention to harass doctors,” he said.

“There will be price caps for certain procedures for BPL card holders. This cap will be decided by the expert committee. Additionally, APL patients will receive a 30% reimbursement for certain procedures. Penalty will be levied instead of imprisonment, and the penalty will increase for repeat offences,” he said.

Dr Ravindra, president elect of the Karnataka chapter of the Indian Medical Association said, “After a three-hour long discussion, we have come to a fruitful conclusion. The Chief Minister has said that the imprisonment terms will be removed.”

Reacting to the statement made by Dr Jayanna, Dr Vasu, a member of the Karnataka Janaarogya Chaluvali, said that it would be a disappointment if the bill is actually watered down.

"The Bill is being tabled on Monday. If the changes mentioned by Dr Jayanna are already there, that is the price caps and the grievance redressal committees are done away with, then there will not be any difference between the old bill and the amendment," Dr Vasu, who has been campaigning for the bill told TNM.

“Cost regulation was extremely crucial in the entire Act. If the govt has compromised on that then what is there in for the people? So this entire exercise shows how the medical lobby is extremely powerful both within the govt and also within opposition parties,” said Akhila Vasan of the Karnataka Janaarogya Chaluvali.

“They have really eroded the democratic process itself, as the entire amendment process has followed a legitimate process where a joint select committee of the House gave its recommendation. Then the govt on its own had meetings with the agitating doctors without even consulting any other group. I think it is a grand betrayal,” she added.

Stating that the bill was only an eye wash, she said that the bill was supposed to citizen centric.

“Even the grievance redressal forum in the form of the proposed bill itself was diluted compared to our demands. We proposed a West Bengal government model like Tribunal kind of a system to probe patients' rights violation. Initially the bill on paper is at least was citizen central which the govt also said in its own words. Now to surrender to the docs is a grand betrayal. This now looks like a political stunt,” she added.


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